Arizona’s Stanley Johnson moving up in the Wooden Watch

Feb 5, 2015, 11:39 PM | Updated: Feb 6, 2015, 12:32 am
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Earlier this season, Stanley Johnson was named to the John R. Wooden Award Midseason Top 25. There were no rankings with the list, just the top 25 players in the running for the most prestigious college award.

In ESPN’s latest Wooden Watch rankings, Johnson is No. 4. It is the first time he has cracked the top five all season.

Johnson is averaging 14.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game while leading the Wildcats in usage rate (27.3 percent) by a considerable margin. The Wildcats are still among the nation’s three or four best defensive teams, but they’re also much better on the offensive end, thanks primarily to two things: more accurate shooting from inside the arc, and more free throws. Johnson — a quick, athletic slasher with enough range (he shoots 39 percent from 3) to earn perimeter respect — makes 51 percent from 2 and gets to the free throw line 6.2 times per 40 minutes. On defense, Arizona rebounds more of its opponents misses (77.5 percent) than any team in the country. You guessed it: Johnson is Arizona’s best defensive rebounder (20.5 percent), too.

Lately, Johnson has stepped up his game even more. During the Wildcats’ current six-game winning streak, he is averaging 16.1 points and 8.0 rebounds per game, falling one rebound short of a double-double twice.

It will be quite a task getting to the top of the Wooden Watch, as two players have held it down the whole season. Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky and Duke’s Jahlil Okafor have been interchangeably one and two all 12 weeks.

Johnson and the No. 6 Wildcats get back to action against in-state rival Arizona State on Saturday.

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